There is no question that an integrated will give you better sound than adding a separate amp.
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I've been down that road before and ended up going back to two seperate systems. I'm sure you can find a two channel amp that exceeds the performance of the Denon but there are two probelms with that approach that I've found:
(a) The amp may be limited by the receiver's abilities as a standalone preamp, and
(b) Denon does not currently offer a seperate amplifier (except for one integrated) and therefore you'll be choosing an amp that's voiced differently. That won't be a problem -- until you watch a movie or listen to multichannel music. Then you may notice a (possibly distracting) difference in the character of the sound from the front speakers and the others.
Marantz may offer a 2-channel amp in their reference line that would probably be voiced close to the Denon. And of course, there's always the Audiogon classifieds.
Having owned a Denon AVR-2802, I find that the premp section is rather warm and laid-back, just like the amp section, and lacks detail and definition when seperated out, so a rather lively amp is probably what's called for. But they're your ears.
Last suggestion: why not just sell the Denon and move up to a top of the line HT receiver in the $3000-$5000 range? At least then, you can count on good 2-channel performance without the complication of adding a seperate amp.
You both seem to confirm some comments I've gotten before. Adding the integrated will yield the greatest 2-channel sonic benefit. I'll probably go that route when I see the right unit come available. I've think I narrowed it to the Mac 6500, Krell 400xi and the PS Audio GCC-250. They're all different so I'll probably stick with the one that fits best with my speakers.
I don't want to invest any more in a better AVR because the technology in them is changing so fast that in 6 months you end up with something that has depreciated so much you lose a major portion of your investment. I also think you aren't going to gain that much better sound. An amp or integrated gets you more performance, for less money and holds its value better.
Now I just have to wait for the right integrated to come up. I might just buy a Bryston 3B-ST for the interim, while looking for the right integrated.